I also had an extremely positive experience with Elizabeth Bell. I am 29/f/single traveling alone, and I went to Guatemala (specifically Antigua) for July 4th weekend 2011. I took her walking tour the first day and I thought it was fantastic. She knows an exceptional amount of historical and current information about Antigua and very clearly plays a public role in shaping local tourism. I can't recommend it highly enough, and at $20 it was a bargain. How often does one tour a museum with a guide that played a significant role in *designing that very museum*?? It seemed no one could come up with a question that would stump her. In her explanations she was concise, frank, and fair about Guatemala's challenges and triumphs.
After the tour, I expressed to her that I desperately wanted to arrange to go to Tikal (by plane) but had just 24 hrs to arrange the trip. Granted, due to her limited technical skills she was not able to book the trip at that moment for me in her office. However she arranged for her colleague (whom she described as a 'miracle worker') to meet with me at their secondary office the next morning. That woman pulled various strings and was able to get me on a flight to Tikal, and arrange a guide, for the very next morning. The flight was either full or very nearly full, and we were trying to arrange it on a Sunday, so it was not an easy feat. She called multiple phone numbers for the only two airlines running flights, got no answer numerous times, and on the 6th or 7th attempt landed an actual person. I didn't have my debit card on me so I bolted back to my hotel thinking she would probably hang up and we would never make contact with a human again, but when I returned she already had my ticket booked and all of the paperwork filled out and waiting for me. Essentially, she trusted that I would return with my money and booked the trip for me while I got the money to pay her. This is not exactly typical in developing countries regardless of the level of professionalism exhibited by the tour operator. As I was leaving her office I asked what I should do if there was a problem in the morning, as the car for the airport was scheduled to pick me up at 4am. She hesitated, then gave me a phone number that I can only presume was her personal cell phone, but assured me that I wouldn't have any trouble. She was right.
In short, 'above and beyond' is an understatement with regards to Elizabeth Bell's agency. I found her prices to be somewhat above the going rate for tour operators in Antigua, but in this case, I got what I paid for. I watched her book trips for two other families and they received the same superior level of service that I enjoyed.